Disclaimer and authorization notice
Nonconnected committee solicitations must include a notice identifying who paid for the solicitation.
Types of communications requiring disclaimers
The disclaimer requirements apply to “public communications” as defined in 100.26, including communications through any broadcast, cable or satellite transmission, newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, mass mailing or telephone bank to the general public, or any other form of general public political advertising. Internet communications are generally exempt from the definition of “general public political advertising,” with the exception of communications placed for a fee on another person’s website.
However, these disclaimer requirements do apply to political committees’ websites and to email of more than 500 substantially similar communications when sent by a political committee.
Finally, these requirements apply to any communications that solicit contributions.
Wording of disclaimer
A disclaimer notice must contain the full name of the committee, along with any abbreviated name used to identify the committee pursuant to 11 CFR 102.14(c). The actual wording of the notice will vary, depending on whether the advertisement is authorized by a candidate or candidate’s committee.
Advertisement not authorized by candidate
Communications not authorized by a candidate or his/her campaign committee, including any solicitation, must disclose the full name and permanent street address, telephone number or website address of the person who paid for the communication, and also state that the communication was not authorized by any candidate.
Example: Advertisement not authorized by candidate
“Paid for by the XYZ PAC (www.XYZ. org) and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
Specific requirements for printed communications
Printed materials must contain a printed box that is set apart from the contents in the communication. The disclaimer print in this box must be of sufficient type size to be “clearly readable” by the recipient of the communication, and the print must have a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the printed statement.
The regulations contain a safe harbor that establishes a fixed, twelve-point type size as a sufficient size for disclaimer text in newspapers, magazines, flyers, signs and other printed communications that are no larger than the common poster size of 24 inches by 36 inches. Disclaimers for larger communications will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
The regulations additionally provide two safe harbor examples that would comply with the color-contrast requirement:
- The disclaimer is printed in black text on a white background; or
- The degree of contrast between the background color and the disclaimer text color is at least as great as the degree of contrast between the background color and the color of the largest text in the communication.
A disclaimer, while required, need not appear on the front page or cover of a multiple-paged document.
Package of materials
Each communication that would require a disclaimer if distributed separately must still display the disclaimer when included in a package of materials. For example, if a campaign poster is mailed with a solicitation for contributions, a separate disclaimer must appear on the solicitation and on the poster.
Items not requiring disclaimer
A disclaimer is not required:
- When it cannot be conveniently printed (for example, on pens, bumper stickers, campaign pins, campaign buttons and similar small items);
- When its display is not practicable (for example, on wearing apparel, on water towers and in skywriting); or
- When the item is of minimal value, does not contain a political message and is used for administrative purposes (e.g., checks and receipts).
Federal election purpose
In order to deposit undesignated contributions into its federal account, a committee must inform donors that their contributions will be used in connection with a federal election or that they are subject to the limitations and prohibitions of the Federal Election Campaign Act. The committee may satisfy this requirement by including that information in its solicitation materials.
"Best efforts rules"
When making solicitations, committees and their treasurers must make "best efforts'" to obtain, maintain and report the name, address, occupation and employer of each contributor who gives more than $200 in a calendar year.
IRS notice requirements
Section 6113 of the Internal Revenue Code requires political committees whose gross annual receipts normally exceed $100,000 to include a special notice on solicitations informing solicitees that their contributions are not tax deductible. There are substantial penalties for failure to comply with this provision.